US President spoke highly of Greece’s contribution to democracy, liberty, during a special event at the White House the marking March 25 anniversary
Washington, DC.- US president George Bush on Friday praised Greece’s contribution to democracy and liberty, and spoke of the historic bonds uniting the American and the Greek people, during a special celebration organized at the White House in honour of the March 25 Greek national Independence Day, which celebrates the start of the Greek revolution against Ottoman rule in 1821. Bush also praised Greece’s new foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis, who is currently on a visit to the US, and who also attended the event.
The US president said that the Americans had been among the strongest supporters of the Greek revolution, adding that their common struggles continued in the 20th century.
Bush spoke of Greece’s contribution not only historically but also in the modern age, adding that it was involved in confronting international terrorism and was playing an active role in development in Afghanistan.
“Greece is a valuable contributor to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. And we thank your government for that. Greece provides security at the Kabul International Airport. We thank your government for that as well. Greece has also been generous in support for the Afghan people, and the Afghan people thank the Greek government for that as well”. Last month in London, for example, Greece pledged funds to support educational programs.
Bush said Greece is supporting other efforts in the war on terror and praised Greek Governments for the commitment to the security and counterterrorism partnership that was put in place during the Olympics in Athens in 2004.
“By the way, people still marvel at how well those Olympics were run. The government stood up and in spite of all the criticism that was taking place, put on some great games — the model for other countries to follow”, Bush added.
He further placed strong emphasis on the role played by the Greek American community in the political, cultural and economic fields, and praised the contribution of Democrat Senator Paul Sarbanes and the Greek Americans serving in the US government, adding also that the presence of the Greek Orthodox Church in America reflected the religious wealth of the US.
Bush also described as “wise” every government that has placed a woman in the post of minister of foreign affairs and relied on her advice, inferring the Greek government with Bakoyannis at the helm of the foreign ministry, and his own government with Condeleezza Rice as secretary of state.
The US president said he was enthusiastic at having met with Bakoyannis, whom he said was a powerful and optimistic figure and was serving her country with dignity.
Archbishop Demetrios of America, who attended the event, stressed that although Greece was a small country, it was situated in an important geographical position, with great contribution to the principles embraced today by the civilized world.
“For serious students of history, the mere survival, Mr. President, of the Hellenic nation is a miracle. Greece has always been a nation with a small population, located in a very important geopolitical area which has been a permanent passageway for people and a battleground for armies, not simply for years or centuries, but for millennia.
Yet, while numerous other national entities have simply disappeared, the Greek nation has survived the cruelest and longest tests in history. How, and why? Is there a secret? Is there an explanation to the survival?
Probably, yes, and this is the fact that the Greek nation has always been absolutely conscious of having a mission in this world, a mission of serving the highest possible ideals and sharing them with every nation, friend and enemy alike. This awareness and condition of mission explains not only the mere survival, but the Greek nation’s brilliant, most generous, universal contributions to the ideals of freedom, human dignity and democracy. This explains its amazing creativity in the fields of science, philosophy, literature, art, considered classic and unsurpassed, and additionally, its astonishing contribution to theology and religion after the synthesis of Hellenism with Orthodox Christianity during the late Hellenistic and Byzantine era”.
Present at the event were, National Intelligence Director John Negroponte, President Bush’s Homeland Security Advisor Francis Frangos Townsend (both Greek Americans), Senator Paul Sarbanes and leaders of various major national Greek American organizations.
Also present was deputy Finance Minister of Greece Christos Folias.